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Archive for January 1st, 2013

 JESU

Jesu is in my heart, his sacred name
Is deeply carved there: but th’other week
A great affliction broke the little frame,
Ev’n all to pieces: which I went to seek:
And first I found the corner, where was J,
After, where ES, and next where U was graved,
When I had got these parcels, instantly
I sat me down to spell them, and perceived
That to my broken heart he was I ease you,
                                And to the whole is J E S U

(Fr. George Herbert, 1633)

   Readings:  Numbers 6: 22-27;  Psalm 8;  Galatians 3: 23-29;  St. Luke 2: 21 (also read, Philippians 2: 1-11)

       Eight days ago was Christ Mass, December 25th.  This is the covenant the Lord established with Abraham and his descendants according to the flesh: “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations…” Genesis 17:12  Jesus was born thoroughly “…under the Law”:  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law…”  Galatians 4:3-5  This is when the Lord’s Blood was first spilled. 

His infant body now
Begins the cross to feel:
Those precious drops of blood that flow
For death the Victim seal.

His Blood is the seal of His Name.  The Name of Jesus literally means:  “God saves”.  On this day of His circumcision Joseph and Mary publically announced the Name the messenger of God gave to Mary. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-32

Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
(William Shakespeare)

Now that is good romantic stuff but I would rather name a daughter “Rose” than “Skunk” even though she would smell as sweet!  Names matter. They identify who one is.  I would dare say you would probably not buy designer clothes with the name, Ralph Lifschitz on it!  But when Mr. Lischitz changed his surname to “Lauren”, as in, Ralph Lauren, it sounded a whole lot better!   wikipedia: Ralph Lauren  Names also matter to the Lord in His Scriptures.  His Name we can count on.  “He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3   Many times the Lord tells us why He does what He does, not for my name’s sake or yours, but His.  His Name is faithfulness.  He stands behind it.  A name you can trust.  This is a most fitting way to begin the calendar New Year when all other names, of government, business, stardom etc. fail.  Over Advent my youngest and I have been re-watching the “Harry Potter” movies.  As the movies progress, it becomes clear that evil is lying in wait, the dark lord who is called in the movies, “He Who Must Not Be Named”.  But evil must be named and even more: There is the Name that Must Be Named, Jesus Christ.  In His Name we pray and hope and wait.  Behind His Name is His Body and Blood.  He has made you His own by naming you in your baptism. A Blessed New Year to you in His Name!

Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf.  Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts maybe be made pure from all sins, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

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Simeon by Rembrandt van Rijn

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna were all part of the faithful remnant of Israel. They did not look to themselves for their salvation, by their keeping of the Law (though they did).  They did not look to themselves for their salvation by their own spirituality (though they were spiritual), their own faithfulness (though they could be faithless), they looked towards the Coming One, strong in grace and in truth victorious.     They faithfully waited for the coming of the Lord.  They kept the Law of God not to be saved but because in the promises of the Lord received through faith they were saved and loved the Lord.  Their attention was on the Lord as they served and loved their neighbors.  They knew who they were because they knew  Whose they were.  The Lord’s Word came to them and they knew they were undeserving.  They were sanctified but not sanctimonious for God’s favor rested upon them which made them holy by faith

 We are told that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel and Anna was waiting…for the redemption of Jerusalem.  In Luke 24, when Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, was about to ask for Jesus’ Body, the evangelist tells us he was, “…waiting for the Kingdom of God.”  They were all waiting  for  the consolation, redemption, kingdom of the Lord and it came in wrapped in swaddling clothes, an infant which would make His Mother cry.

 It is apropos to ask for an apology after “keeping someone waiting” but Simeon, Anna  and Joseph of Arimathea were waiting for the One who keeps them in His grace and favor. They were not the ones they had been waiting for.  Their waiting, experiences, suffering was not their life nor the confirmation and conformation of it. They looked outside themselves as God’s Word drew them to Himself in His Temple. The Lord was, would be and is ever more the confirmation and conformation of our lives in His life.   Anna probably was waiting for 77 years for the Messiah.  Israel even longer. Simeon came often to the Temple in order for prayer, praise and thanksgiving. Elizabeth and Zechariah, Joseph and Mary each couple waited nine months through the holy women’s pregnancy.  Expectant mothers…expectation.  Nine months can surely be a long time.  then as the time draws nigh, any time now and it can such a surprise though expected.  Hope and waiting and it is quite a filled time!   

  Now some waits are aggravating and annoying, like, waiting in line, waiting in the doctor’s waiting room reading well thumbed past issues of People, waiting for your flight.  IN those waits one is passing time, twiddling thumbs, empty waiting.  It is utterly passive. Americans do not like to wait. Waiting for consolation, redemption and the reign of God is not empty waiting but filled waiting.  Anna never left the Temple, but her time which was God’s time was filled with, “… worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.”  Simeon probably  lived out his daily vocation in life and came to the Temple for worshiping with fasting and prayer.  Joseph of Arimathea gave oversight to the life of Israel as an elder and probably had a daily vocation.  Their lives were marked by prayer.  Such waiting is waiting on the Word of God so as to be filled, and waiting on each other in service in our vocations, such is to wait for the Lord.  Some 20 times, the Psalms sing of this theme of waiting for the Lord. We wait for the Lord.

 Psalm 130:5  I wait for the LORD, my soul waits ,and in his word I hope;

Psalm 25:5  Lead me in your truth and teach me,for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 27:14  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalm 62:5  For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,for my hope is from him.

This is filled waiting, active and strong waiting.  This waiting for the Lord is hope.  Hope for the things unseen.  It is faith because it takes God at His Word for our salvation.  One Psalmist prayed,

I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God. 
Waiting for the Lord will be like this, but a broken and contrite heart O Lord, you do not despise. Through it all, it was still the prayer of faith.   Waiting for the Lord is courage, consolation and strength in Him.  Americans do not like to wait.  We want it yesterday. We can no longer wait for Christmas but must have it without Advent.  Anna and Simeon did not wait on themselves. They did not hope for themselves but hoped in the Lord and His Word.   Waiting for the Lord they loved their neighbors. Americans do not like to wait but Americans did not use to be that way.  They worked and waited.  Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. Waiting for the Lord is prayer and He prays with, for us, in us.  St. Paul wrote that we do not pray as we ought but the Holy Spirit intercedes, prays in sighs too deep words.

 There is a passive, empty waiting, an active filled waiting, it also clear from Scripture there is evil waiting as in “lying in wait” to get someone.  Lying in wait and a person desires to remain unseen, in the dark.  Such is the work of the devil prowling around like a lion,  lying in wait, seeking someone to devour. Remain steadfast in the faith.  This is so done by prayer in His Name.  Over Advent my youngest and I have been re-watching the “Harry Potter” movies.  As the movies progress, it becomes clear that evil is lying in wait, the dark lord who is called in the movies, “He Who Must Not Be Named”.  But evil must be named and even more: There is the Name that Must Be Named, Jesus Christ.  In His Name we pray and hope and wait.

 The word “revelation” is employed three times in today’s lesson.  Again, from the Greek we have our word apocalyptic.  They were promised in  God’s Word an apocalypse.  Simeon and Anna were not disappointed. It was well worth the wait. Still is.  It was an apocalyptic meeting in which much is revealed, would be revealed, and will be revealed.   The Child born of Mary is the apocalypse of God. A child is an apocalypse. Every birth is hope. When we deny it, then life dies.  Much is shown in the birth of the Son of Mary, Son of God.  When I pick up my nephew Mason who is year and a half, it’s like picking up a future linebacker.   Simeon held in his arms a rock, the rock of our salvation who probably weighed all of 10-20 pounds but weighted with the Word and the promise of heaven for us all. Simeon blessed God.  This is the Rock of our salvation, in whom we are able to establish ourselves when we have slipped into the sewage of sin upon the slippery road of this life. He is the cornerstone of His Church and it was chiseled and hewn by every Word and Work He taught and did for us all and finally upon the Cross.  Simeon saw the Lord’s salvation. This Child will cause some to fall because they did not believe and were waiting on themselves.  This Child, prophesied Simeon, will cause many to rise because they knew their salvation, their hope, faith and love were wrapped up in Him, Jesus Christ.  Wait on the Lord, wrapped and clothed in your baptismal promises.  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…Simeon knew it:  Christ was born for this.

 

 

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